Confirmed EF-1 tornado in Monroe County destroys two buildings Wednesday

A building is damaged after an EF1 tornado touched down on August 11, 2021 in rural Monroe...
A building is damaged after an EF1 tornado touched down on August 11, 2021 in rural Monroe County.(Monroe County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 11:25 AM CDT
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TOWN OF RIDGEVILLE, Wis. (WEAU) - The National Weather Service in La Crosse is confirming a tornado touched down Wednesday north of Norwalk, Wis. in Monroe County.

According to a preliminary storm summary from the NWS, the EF1 tornado started at about 1:45 p.m. west of Moore Creek north of Norwalk, damaging a portion of the Elroy-Sparta State Trail. From there, it continued east for about six miles, crossing County Highways T, U, and M, ending near Sleighton Creek north of Wilton, Wis.

Two buildings were destroyed, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office: the Norwalk Sportsman’s Club and a barn. Winds reached a maximum 105 miles per hour, according to the NWS, which knocked down power lines and trees. The Sheriff’s Office said power was quickly restored and debris was removed from roadways, although cleanup along the Elroy-Sparta State Trail was expected to take a little longer due to trees knocked down across the trail.

We've confirmed that an EF1 tornado touched down in Monroe County near Norwalk this afternoon. The tornado traveled 6...

Posted by US National Weather Service La Crosse Wisconsin on Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The NWS says the tornado lasted 18 minutes, from 1:45 p.m. to 2:03 p.,m., and traveled about six miles with a maximum width of 80 yards. The NWS said the tornado track was intermittent near the end as it made its way east.

Nobody was injured or killed by the tornado. Most of the damage was to the two structures, as well as sheared trees and crops, said the NWS. The 105-miles-per-hour maximum wind speed puts the tornado on the high end of EF1, just six miles per hour short of being rated an EF2.

NWS Meteorologist Dan Baumgardt says August usually isn’t an active tornado month in Wisconsin, but they can happen at anytime under the right circumstances.

“Anytime you’ve got a warm enough day and you can form thunderstorms, and you have the winds right, you can get a tornado,” Baumgardt explained.

It’s the latest round of severe weather for the Coulee Region after La Crosse received its most rain in a single day on Saturday, and Vernon County deals with the aftermath of weekend flooding.

Baumgardt says the severe weather events are the result of more progressive weather patterns.

“If you compare that [patterns] to earlier in the summer, it was just a more tranquil weather pattern where we didn’t see these systems coming through,” Baumgardt said. “The conditions have been right for about the last week and we’ve been seeing more weather from it.”

EM Director Jared Tessman giving a update on storm damage near Norwalk.

Posted by Monroe County Sheriff's Office- Wisconsin on Wednesday, August 11, 2021

As of Thursday, the Elroy-Sparta State Trail remained closed from Norwalk to Tunnel 3, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The DNR wrote on Twitter that it hoped to have the trail open by the weekend.

Assisting Monroe County Emergency Management during the response were the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Monroe County 911 Communication Center, Wilton Police Department, Norwalk Fire Department, Oakdale Electric, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the National Weather Service in La Crosse, and Wisconsin Emergency Management.

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